Seeds of South Australia
Alectryon oleifolius ssp. canescens (Sapindaceae)
Cattle Bush
List of species for Alectryon
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Seed collecting:
February to April
Herbarium regions:
North Western, Lake Eyre, Nullarbor, Gairdner-Torrens, Flinders Ranges, Eastern, Eyre Peninsula, Northern Lofty, Murray, Yorke Peninsula, Southern Lofty
NRM regions:
Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Alinytjara Wilurara, Eyre Peninsula, Northern and Yorke, South Australian Arid Lands, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin
IBRA regions
Fleurieu (KAN02)Kanmantoo
 Rare   (IUCN: RA d(i,ii))   [edge of range]
Broughton (FLB02)Flinders Lofty Block
 Least Concern
Olary Spur (FLB03) 
 Least Concern
Southern Flinders (FLB04) 
 Least Concern
Northern Flinders (FLB05) 
 Least Concern
Central Flinders (FLB06) 
 Least Concern
St Vincent (EYB02)Eyre Yorke Block
 Least Concern
Eyre Hills (EYB03) 
 Least Concern
Eyre Mallee (EYB05) 
 Least Concern
South Olary Plain (MDD01)Murray Darling Depression
 Least Concern   [problems regenerating; grazed; suckers]
Murray Mallee (MDD02) 
 Least Concern
Braemer (MDD07) 
 Least Concern
Murray Scroll Belt (RIV06)Riverina
 Near Threatened   [edge of range]
Myall Plains (GAW01)Gawler
 Least Concern
Gawler Volcanics (GAW02) 
 Least Concern
Gawler Lakes (GAW03) 
 Least Concern
Arcoona Plateau (GAW04) 
 Least Concern
Kingoonya (GAW05) 
 Least Concern
Torrens (GAW06) 
 Least Concern
Roxby (GAW07) 
 Least Concern
Commonwealth Hill (GAW08) 
 Least Concern
Maralinga (GVD03)Great Victoria Desert
 Least Concern
Yellabinna (GVD06) 
 Least Concern
Carlisle (NUL01)Nullarbor
 Least Concern
Nullarbor Plain (NUL02) 
 Least Concern
Yalata (NUL03) 
 Least Concern
Barrier Range (BHC01)Broken Hill Complex
 Least Concern
Barrier Range Outwash (BHC04) 
 Least Concern
Bimbowrie (BHC05) 
 Least Concern
Curnamona (BHC06) 
 Least Concern
Warriner (SSD04)Simpson Strzelecki Dunefields
 Near Threatened   [grazed]
Strzelecki Desert (SSD05) 
 Least Concern
Breakaways (STP01)Stony Plains
 Least Concern
Oodnadatta (STP02) 
 Near Threatened   [out of range]
Murnpeowie (STP03) 
 Least Concern
Baltana (STP07) 
 Least Concern
Coongie (CHC06)Channel Country
 Rare   (IUCN: RA d(ii))   [outlier]
IBRA regions
Fleurieu (KAN02)KanmantooRare
  (IUCN: RA d(i,ii))   [edge of range]
5 of 6 subregionsFlinders Lofty BlockLeast Concern
3 of 5 subregionsEyre Yorke BlockLeast Concern
3 of 6 subregionsMurray Darling DepressionLeast Concern
Murray Scroll Belt (RIV06)RiverinaNear Threatened
  [edge of range]
8 of 8 subregionsGawlerLeast Concern
2 of 4 subregionsGreat Victoria DesertLeast Concern
3 of 3 subregionsNullarborLeast Concern
4 of 4 subregionsBroken Hill ComplexLeast Concern
2 of 4 subregionsSimpson Strzelecki DunefieldsLeast Concern
, Near Threatened
4 of 7 subregionsStony PlainsLeast Concern
, Near Threatened
Coongie (CHC06)Channel CountryRare
  (IUCN: RA d(ii))   [outlier]
RSCA map:
Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion. Please click the thumbnail map.
AVH map:
Australian distribution map (external link)
SA Census:
Census of South Australian plants (external link)     [genus Alectryon]
Name derivation:
Alectryon from the Greek words 'alectryon' meaning rooster; possibly referring to the red aril on the seed being similar to a rooster's comb. Oleifolius for olive leaved. Canescens from the Latin 'canescens' becoming hoary, referring to the grey colour of the olive-like leaves.
Widespread across South Australia except for Kangaroo Island and South-east regions. Common in arid and semi-arid areas on sandy soils, usually in open woodland or shrubland. Also found in Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
Native. Common in South Australia. Common in other states.
Plant description:
Small tree to 9m, branches and leaves usually pendant. Leaves simple, linear to narrow-elliptic or narrow-obovate to 15cm long and 2cm wide; green to grey-green. Inflorescences to 9cm long. Calyx irregularly toothed, bright green; petals absent. Flowering between September and November.
Fruit type:
Brown thin woody capsule to 8mm long and 15mm wide, usually 2-lobed.
Seed type:
Hard, black, globular seed to 4mm long and 4mm wide with a large red aril.
Embryo type:
Seed collecting:
Collect mature fruits that have split with large red arils emerging and shiny black seeds. Seeds can also be collected from the ground.
Seed cleaning:
Place fruits in a tray or paper bag and the fruit will open and the seed will fall out. Use a sieve to separate the unwanted the material. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place.
Seed viability:
From one collection seed viability was high (92%). Seeds that are collected before the fruits split are likely to be immature and non-viable.
Seed germination:
The highly coloured, oily arils are likely to be removed by birds or other seed  dispersers. Removing the aril significantly increased germination in a nursery experiment. In laboratory experiments, seeds with arils removed had higher germination levels in spring/autumn conditions than in winter conditions. Members of the plant family Spanidaceae may have physical dormancy imposed by the seed coat and require nicking or hot water treatment before germination will occur. Alectryon oleifolius seeds did not require nicking or hot water treatment. They have a small micropylar opening, observed when the aril is removed, which may allow the passage of water through the seed coat (see photo above). Germination research for this species was supported by SAMDB NRM.
Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
1625 (65 g)
1625 (65 g)
Yorke Peninsula
Location: BGA — the seeds are stored at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, MSB — the seeds are stored at the Millennium Seed Bank, Kew, England.
Number of plants: This is the number of plants from which the seeds were collected.
Collection location: The Herbarium of South Australia's region name.
% Viability: Percentage of filled healthy seeds determined by a cut test or x-ray.
Germination table:
DateResultT0T50Pre-treatment | Germination medium | Incubator: Photoperiod / Thermoperiod
Mar-1774%14 d28 d aril removed;
1% agar;
Incubated under spring/autumn conditions
Mar-1770%NANA aril removed, seed coat nicked with scalpel, seeds leached in water for 24 h;
1% agar;
Incubated under spring/autumn conditions
May-1764%1435 aril removed;
1% agar;
Incubated under spring/autumn conditions
Apr-1734%35NA aril removed;
potting mix;
glasshouse April
May-1716%35NA aril removed;
1% agar;
Incubated under winter conditions
Apr-176%35NA aril intact;
potting mix;
glasshouse April
Jul-060%NANA hot water (90°C) 10 min;
filter paper over moist sponge;
14/10;  /  10°C/20°C
Result: Maximum percentage of germination observed.
T0: Number of days before first germinant observed.
T50: Number of days to achieve 50% germination.
Pre-treatment: The initial treatment that the seeds received prior to placement on germination media.
Germination medium: The substrate that seeds were placed on for the duration of the germination experiment.
Incubator conditions:
Photoperiod: The duration of light exposure that the seeds were subject to during a 24 hour period.
Thermoperiod: The constant or diurnal temperatures that seeds were subject to during a 24 hour period.
Winter conditions: 15°C 20 h (3am→11pm); 5°C 4 h (11pm→3am) / 10 h light (8am→6pm); 14 h dark (6pm→8am)
Spring/Autumn conditions: 22°C 12 h (8am→8pm); 10°C 12 h (8pm→8am) / 12 h light (8am→8pm); 12 h dark (8pm→8am)
Summer conditions: 30°C 14 h (6am→8pm); 15°C 10 h (8pm→6am) / 14 h light (6am→8pm); 10 h dark (8pm→6am)